As Borell Released, Cruelty Laws Questioned

Charles Borell released from detention center July 1 after posting bond.

A case in Central Kentucky that has resulted in 43 charges of second degree animal cruelty against trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles “Chuck” Borell, has brought to the fore the laws in the state governing acts such as abandonment, with some recommending that those laws be stiffened.

Charles Borell was taken into custody earlier this week when he arrived at a Central Kentucky farm where volunteers, Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kealty, and the state Department of Agriculture have been caring for 43 horses since they were apparently abandoned in early June. The charges against Charles Borell and his daughter, who has not been located, were filed after the KDA investigation determined they were the persons responsible for the horses.

Charles Borell was released from the Boyle County Detention Center July 1 after posting a $4,300 bond and his July 5 court date will be rescheduled.

Since the horses’ plight was first reported in an article by Margaret Ransom at USRacing.com and a subsequent visit to the farm and a posting that included photographs on Facebook by Victoria Keith of Fox Hill Farm, there has been an outpouring of support for the effort to help with the care of the horses. Six horses deemd in need of an added level of care, including three diagnosed as being emaciated, were relocated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s facility near Lexington.

In Kentucky, second degree animal cruelty is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or imprisonment up to a year. Since it is a misdemeanor, officials would not be able to extradite from out of state someone charged with second degree animal cruelty.

In a subsequent Facebook post, Fox Hill Farm owner Rick Porter said they have retained Lexington attorney John Roach to assist in evaluating and possibly getting changes made to Kentucky’s animal cruelty laws.

“The Borell horse situation shined a light on the best and the worst of the racing industry,” the posting stated. “The worst were the owners who abandoned horses, leaving them without the resources for proper food, veterinary, and farrier care, resulting in over 40 abused horses. The best was the response of the racing community. The donations and offers for care were overwhelming.

“It appears that the Borell horses are on the path to good health. Less certain is that they will ultimately go to new and loving homes. What could prevent this from happening are the current laws in Kentucky regarding animal welfare.”

The Facebook post recalled another incident in which a horse owner in Central Kentucky was found guilty and served time under the cruelty statute in a case in which one horse died. Upon the horse owner’s release, they went to court and successfully reacquired possession of the other two horses that had been removed.

“We will work to strengthen Kentucky's laws to protect defenseless animals. We also plan to look within the industry to areas such as licensing and registration that could provide solutions. We may decide to set this up as a nonprofit as this could be an ongoing effort indefinitely.

“We thank everyone who stepped up and played a part in the Borell horses being properly cared for. You made us proud to be part of the racing community.”